ITAT Picks The SEC: Week 14

Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell, Stephen Atkinson and aushoes, this week's guest, pick the final week of SEC play.

Editor's Note: The winner of our weekly Inside the Auburn Tigers prediction contest will receive an invitation to join staff members to give their takes in the SEC picks column. Last week's winner, aushoes, is our guest.

Here is the link for this week's picks contest: Click here.

Week 13Overall%
Pick'em Winners*

* - 5xTiger, dukeofga, rabungap61, OkAUBURNTiger, AUgold, autigrs, eagle70, Antibammer, rlshm, corynd, FlaTiger, wcw3au1

Friday's Games

Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5) at Ole Miss (7-4, 4-3), 11:30 a.m. CT, Raycom
Jason's Take: This one is about exacting a little revenge for the Rebels after last season's collapse at home that proved to be the final nail in Ed Orgeron's coffin. It won't take until the last minute to decide this year's Egg Bowl. Ole Miss 30, Mississippi State 13
Mark's Take: The visitors from Starkville should be able to keep this game interesting for a while, but look for Ole Miss and its superior quarterback play to prevail. Ole Miss 27, Mississippi State 17
Stephen's Take: Ole Miss had a big win last week and the Rebs get to follow with an Egg Bowl victory. They'll be feeling all good about themselves until the Cotton Bowl. Ole Miss 32, Mississippi State 13
aushoes's Take: They should move this game up one day and play it on Thanksgiving, since Houston Nutt has so much to be thankful for, the least of which is all the talent that Ed Orgeron left him. Too bad he didn't do the same for Bobby Petrino. Ole Miss has too much offense for the Bulldogs to handle, so this years Egg Bowl will go to the Rebels. Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 14

LSU (7-4, 3-4) at Arkansas (4-7, 1-6), 1:30 p.m. CT, CBS
Jason's Take: In what could be an interesting game, the Razorbacks host the downward spiraling LSU Tigers. What was thought to be a mismatch has turned into a tough challenge for Les Miles' club. Arkansas will make it closer than most think, but LSU will find a way to get the win. LSU 27, Arkansas 23
Mark's Take: If the teams had played early in the season this would have likely been an easy win for LSU, but Arkansas has improved and LSU has regressed. Look for Les Miles to rally his team for a road victory in the second half of Friday's SEC doubleheader at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. LSU 31, Arkansas 28
Stephen's Take: If the Razorbacks weren't decimated by injuries and suspensions then they'd have a decent chance to beat the Bayou Bengals again. With Jordan Jefferson handing off to Charles Scott, the LSU ground game is enough for the win. LSU 31, Arkansas 23
aushoes's Take: After being embarrassed at home last week by Ole Miss, look for a LSU team, which has nothing to really play for at this point in the season for the first time in years, to come out with more fire, and passion, and looking for respect. That and Petrino's lack of players on the offensive side of the ball gives the nod to the Tigers. LSU 28 Arkansas 21

Saturday's Games

Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3 ACC) at Georgia (9-2, 6-2 SEC), 11 a.m. CT, CBS
Jason's Take: Georgia hosts the surging Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets trying to hold onto slim hopes to playing in another BCS game. Paul Johnson has been the miracle worker this season in turning around the Georgia Tech program while Mark Richt's Bulldogs have underachieved in big games. Not this time. Georgia 34, Georgia Tech 24
Mark's Take: Tech's running game could give the Bulldogs problems, but if Georgia doesn't have a lot of mistakes Mark Richt's team should be able to defend the home turf vs. the Yellow Jackets. Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 17
Stephen's Take: Georgia, Florida and Auburn are all looking to extend their winning streaks over their rivals on Saturday. The Bulldogs, looking for number eight, have the challenge of stopping the option that has been on a roll in recent weeks. Can Georgia stop the run? No. Can Georgia slow it down enough times to win? Probably so. Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 24
aushoes's Take: The Bulldogs started out the year ranked No. 1 in the country, but after falling far short of those expectations they now must beat the Yellow Jackets just to end up the No. 1 team in their state. Georgia's weakness on defense is the passing game, which is not Tech's strength. And while Georgia won't totally stop the Jackets option offense, they will slow it down enough eak out a win. Plus, I think the wideouts for the Dogs have a huge day on Saturday against the Tech DBs. Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 28

South Carolina (7-4, 4-4) at Clemson (6-5, 4-4 ACC), 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2
Jason's Take: Clemson will be fired up to knock off Steve Spurrier and in the process help Dabo Sweeney get closer to being named the full-time coach for the Tigers. Playing on the road hasn't been a bed of roses for the Gamecocks this season and this may be the toughest test of them all in terms of pure emotion. Clemson 28, South Carolina 24
Mark's Take: Dabo Swinney's audition for the permanent title as head coach at Clemson continues as the Gamecocks make the trip to face the Tigers. It's a tough game to call, but Steve Spurrier's team should be able to find a way to beat its in-state rival. South Carolina 24, Clemson 20
Stephen's Take: Clemson has won five of the last six in the series, is playing at home, and has been an improved team since Tommy Bowden was fired. But nine times out of 10 I'll take a 4-4 SEC team against a 4-4 ACC team. South Carolina 24, Clemson 17
aushoes's Take: In an in-state game with some extra insentives involved, Dabo Sweeney is still trying to convince the powers that be at Clemson that he is the man for the job. Steve Spurrier is trying to show that he is still "the man," which after last week's spanking by his former employer is beginning to look doubtful with every passing game. The Gamecock defense rises to the occasion and stops Dabo's hope for an interview. South Carolina 24 Clemson 17

Florida (10-1, 7-1) at Florida State (8-3, 5-3 ACC), 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC
Jason's Take: The Gators have been romping opponents left and right this season and are scoring points at an alarming pace. Last season Florida State talked about shutting down Tebow heading into the matchup and were left red-faced in a loss. No talking this time, but it won't matter. Florida 34, Florida State 17
Mark's Take: FSU has been impressive on defense and has homefield advantage. However, that won't be enough to stop a Gator team that is hotter than Gainesville on the 4th of July. Florida 31, Florida State 14
Stephen's Take: The Seminoles are Gator Bait as Florida wins its fifth straight over Florida State. Oklahoma might argue, but the Gators are playing the best football in the country right now. Something tells me that argument will get to be settled in a little over a month. Florida 45, Florida State 17
aushoes's Take: Some might think that the odds are that the Gators are due for a let down game after their last seven games they have averaged 53 points since their lone loss to Ole Miss back in September. Don't get your hopes up if you're a Seminole fan as this Florida team is on a mission, and the juggernaut continues through Tallahassee on it's way to Atlanta. The best team in the country has little trouble with Papa Bowden's boys. Florida 48, Florida State 21

Kentucky (6-5, 2-5) at Tennessee (4-7, 2-5), 5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2
Jason's Take: Phil Fulmer's final game at Neyland Stadium could be an emotional one for the Volunteer faithful. Last week Tennessee played its best game of the season in defeating Vanderbilt by just running the football in the second half. If they do that for an entire 60 minutes they beat the Cats. Tennessee 20, Kentucky 16
Mark's Take: This is the finale for Phil Fulmer, dean of the SEC's coaches. It should be a close game, but look for the Wildcats to pull out a victory because UT still hasn't found a way to consistently move the football. Kentucky 21, Tennessee 14
Stephen's Take: The Volunteers couldn't beat Wyoming the Saturday after Fulmer's announcement, but they do give him a pair of wins to go out on. Tennessee 20, Kentucky 17
aushoes's Take: The final game on the Phil Fulmer farewell tour, the Dean of SEC coaches, comes home to Knoxville for a last stop before more than 100,000 screaming Vol fans that get one last chance to show their love and appreciation. This will be an emotional going away party with the Wildcats being the invited guests, but who won't be made to feel too welcome in the end as they are served up as the main course in this feast. Tennessee 24, Kentucky 17

Vanderbilt (6-5, 4-4) at Wake Forest (6-5, 4-4 ACC), 6 p.m. CT, ESPNU
Jason's Take: Vanderbilt looked awful in a loss at home to Tennessee last week. Wake Forest finally got something going on offense behind quarterback Riley Skinner. That's good enough for me. Wake Forest 31, Vanderbilt 17
Mark's Take: A pair of teams that rely on their defenses, look for the Demon Deacons to find a way to beat an inconsistent Vandy team. Wake Forest 17, Vanderbilt 14
Stephen's Take: This is the one time out of 10 I mentioned earlier. I'll go with Wake Forest at home. Random note: Ole Miss won at Florida and at LSU, but lost to both of these teams. Wake Forest 28, Vanderbilt 23
aushoes's Take: If this was a contest that matched up the totals of each schools SAT scores or pitted each others GPA's against the other, we could have an exciting, high-scoring game. But no such luck. With a bowl game already locked up for both teams, this will more than likely end up being a contest of who doesn't want to lose the worst, or who wants to finish on a positive note. The Commodores have lost five of their last six games, so I will go with the home team Deacons. Wake Forest 21, Vanderbilt 14

Auburn (5-6, 2-5) at Alabama (11-0, 7-0), 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS
Jason's Take: Auburn has won six in a row in the series. The Tigers are looking for their sixth win. Alabama comes in ranked number one in the country and for its first ever win over Auburn in Tuscaloosa. Everything looks like it should be all Alabama, but Tommy Tuberville has a knack for playing well against Top 10 teams. Auburn 23, Alabama 22
Mark's Take: Auburn has a chance to make it seven-in-a-row vs. the Tide despite being a two-touchdown underdog and playing on the road. Alabama is a team that doesn't overwhelm opponents with its talent, but is winning with a defense that plays together and a solid running attack featuring a productive offensive line. For Auburn to pull off the upset the Tigers will have to give a complete performance on offense, defense and the kicking game, something they haven't been able to manage this season. Alabama 24, Auburn 14
Stephen's Take: "Throw out the history books when it comes to the Iron Bowl." That's what they say, but it's not true. Both teams are always amped up and both teams prepare year-around for this one game. Therefore, the better team usually wins. This year Alabama is the better team and is favored by two touchdowns or more. However, it wouldn't be a huge upset if the Tigers won. After all, the talent is comparable. I'm not going to throw out the history books, and history tends to lean toward senior quarterbacks. That's the way it's always been and always will be. Alabama 16, Auburn 14
aushoes's Take: This year's Iron Bowl pits the two most surprising teams in the SEC this year. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it's for two different reasons. Like him or not, Nick Saban has proved his worth as a coach in a very short time in Tuscaloos, as the Tide is well coached, very disciplined football team. Both the Tide players and their fans are hungry for a victory, and to put an end to the "streak." Not that they need any more motivation than this, but throw in the fact that with a win they keep their hopes alive for a chance to play for the National Championship.
I believe that the game will be decided in the 1st quarter. If Bama jumps out to a big lead early, things will get ugly, but if Auburn can muscle up some offense, put some points on the board and put the Tide in a hole, it will be interesting how Alabama handles the pressure. Mentally we could get the edge we need to pull off the upset. I do believe in miracles, as I was at Legion Field back in 1972 and witnessed one in person. But I will go with my head, and not my heart on this one. Alabama 35, Auburn 17

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